Center for Ethics at Saint Anselm Releases Second Annual Housing Survey

July 22, 2021

By Jason Sorens

MANCHESTER, NH — The Center for Ethics in Society at Saint Anselm College recently released its second annual statewide survey of voter attitudes about New Hampshire’s housing crisis.

In addition to gathering opinions about affordable housing, planning and zoning regulations, new housing developments, and possible state legislative action to speed up approval of new housing permits, this year’s survey asked voters where multifamily homes (apartments, duplexes, townhouses) should be built.

The New Hampshire voters surveyed overwhelmingly support building more affordable housing in their own communities, with 63 percent agreeing that “My community needs more affordable housing to be built” and only 31 percent disagreeing.

Granite Staters also supported improvements to the local review process, including speeding up reviews of new housing proposals. This change was an element of this year’s legislature session in the narrowly tabled HB 586. Seventy-one percent of voters overall agreed, and only 17 percent disagreed.

Other key insights of the housing survey show that:
• Sixty-one percent of respondents disagree with the idea that “suburbs and rural towns should have mostly just single-family homes; [a]partments, duplexes, and townhouses should be built only in cities,” and only 32 percent agree.
• Thirty-nine percent of voters agree that “towns and cities should relax their planning and zoning regulations to allow more housing to be built” while 52 percent disagree.
• Thirty-seven percent would support proposed state legislation “to allow property owners to build duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes on any property served by municipal water and sewer and where the zoning allows residential development,” and 38 percent would oppose, with 25 percent unsure.
• Forty-four percent agree that “communities should do more to prevent development and keep the state the way it is,” and 51 percent disagree.

“It is encouraging to see that many Granite State voters recognize the need to build additional housing of various types in their communities, and that they recognize that new affordable housing, in particular, is needed,” said Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing.

“We design our statewide polls with neutral questions on a variety of housing issues to elicit voters’ attitudes from many aspects,” said Center for Ethics Director Jason Sorens. “This survey shows that voters want new, inexpensive homes even in their own community.”

Voter trends showed:
• Renters were more pro-housing than homeowners across most issues.
• Voters under 35 supported relaxing planning and zoning regulations, 48 to 40 percent, while voters 65 and over opposed the idea, 58 to 35 percent.
• On preventing development to keep the state the way it is, there was a big education gap, with “high school or less” voters in favor, 61 to 35 percent, while college graduates were opposed by about 20 percentage points.

Methodology: These results are from a Saint Anselm College Survey Center online survey conducted on behalf of the Saint Anselm College Center for Ethics in Society based on online surveys of 1,171 registered New Hampshire voters. Surveys were collected between June 27–29, 2021 from cell phone users randomly drawn from a sample of registered voters reflecting the demographic and partisan characteristics of the voting population. The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of +/- 2.9%, with a confidence interval of 95%. The data are weighted for age, gender, geography, and education based on a voter demographic model derived from historical voting patterns but are not weighted by party registration or party identification.

Read the full results

About the Center for Ethics in Society

The Center for Ethics in Society was founded in 2017 as a forum for research, discourse, and education about pressing ethical issues in New Hampshire’s communities and organizations. For more information, go to www.anselm.edu/ethics.